Antipsychotics, a type of medication usually prescribed to treat psychotic disorders, can have a protective effect against COVID-19. This is according to a new study by the University of Seville, which reports that people taking antipsychotics were less likely to contract the virus and that, among those who did, the chances of reaching a serious life-threatening state were lower .
The research is reported in two studies, both led by the Mental Health Unit of the University Hospital Virgen del Rocio. The work involved data on 698 patients at the Seville hospital who were treated with antipsychotic drugs.
The researchers note that cases of COVID-19 among patients taking antipsychotics are “less than expected”. This does not mean that there were no reported infections, but in cases where there were cases of COVID-19, people taking antipsychotics were found to be more likely to develop a mild form of the disease.
This may be due to the genes that are down-regulated by antipsychotics – these are many of the same genes, the researchers note, which COVID-19 alters. The lead author of the second study, Professor Crespo-Facorro, explained:
In a striking way, we have shown how antipsychotics reduce the activation of genes involved in many of the inflammatory and immunological pathways associated with the severity of Covid-19 infection. Although this finding requires replication, the discovery could be very significant because the treatment of Covid-19 with drugs originally indicated for unrelated clinical situations, that is to say, drug repositioning, has been shown to be an interesting source of effective treatments for Covid-19 patients.